tv [untitled] May 13, 2012 8:00pm-8:30pm EDT
happening inside the administration as well as harris. i think that's important to know. elizabeth was one of the students who was going to be a part of the desegregation of central high school with ernie green and the rest. she's captured in the iconic photograph where there's a mob behind her and she's trying to get on the bus. there's a wonderful book. you should read the book. now going back to the streets versus the courts. we have people who are watching this and seeing it and wanting to be a part of the energy talked about. you become a pivotal part of looking and dealing with civil
rights in a way to that point john f. kennedy -- tell us the story. >> thank you, callie. i'd sort of like to pick up where roger left off, because as i listened to all of the people talk about what was going on inside, i kept thinking about the young people in this audience, and i want to say to them, that it was young people like you who changed the minds of the kennedys. those young people, i just did all this research for this book i'm going to promote in a few minutes, but i'm living with this now as i didn't live with it as i did at the university of georgia, but i was encouraged by what else was going on by students in the movement. we had the little rock nine and ruby bridges who was over in new orleans, who was even in a way more poignant than you guys. because you guys were at least
11th and 12th grade. they was in the 5th and 6th grade and she had to walk through this mop, 1st grade. and we talked about the continuity of history. when barack obama was running for president, he went to selma, and one of the things he said there was, i stand on the shoulders of giants. and i was so happy to hear him say that, because as ernie said and others have said, black people had been struggling for equality since they were brought over here in chains. and it built, and it built. and as i was writing my book about the students who actually did change the minds of the kennedys, i had to go back to all of those people in the naacp and other organizations who had been quietly working since those guys came back home, including my father who was in the truman army, who held the heads of black soldiers who were shot on
the battlefield. and yet they couldn't come back home, even injured, and enjoy any of the privilege also of the other whites. so all of that had been going on, and germinating and simmering. and so, you know, when these young people hit the streets, starting in greensboro in 1960 when they sat in at the lunch counters, that unleashed young people all over the south, and eventually in the north, because in order to get the attention of the kennedy administration, they got white kids from the north to go and study nonviolent protests in -- i think it was in ohio, and some of them went south to do sit-ins and demonstrations,
et cetera, some of them were sent to washington because they were white, and they thought that they could get the attention of the white administration with a couple of exceptions here to protect those young people who were demonstrating for equal rights in the south. now, all of this was happening as i applied to the university of georgia. i don't think it was necessarily the school desegregation stuff at that point. when i entered in '61, it was the first successful desegregation of higher education at that point in the south. and robert kennedy came to my college, university of georgia, i desegregated in january of '61, as the desegregation order was given by a white republican judge, william boodle, and kennedy came in may of '61 to speak at the law day ceremony. and by this time, there had been a consciousness -- the consciousness of the administration had been raised to a certain extent.
so the state representatives, none of the top officials of georgia would attend, because they were afraid of what bobby kennedy was going to say. and so here i was, one of two black students on the campus of 20,000, who had rioted when we went into the university, but that calmed down after about three days. we didn't have to have ernie's troops come in. so kennedy comes -- is coming, and i'm saying, i really want to hear what he has to say. especially since all of these georgia legislators were so concerned about what he was going to say. so i spoke to a sympathetic professor, most of whom didn't speak to me at that point, but he did, and so he got me into the room, and sure enough, he started with the whole notion of the cold war. that was his context for saying that you have to obey the federal laws. and then -- and i wrote about
this in my first book. i was sitting in the -- somewhere, you know, invisible, in the class, a room of maybe 200 or 300 students, and all of a sudden i heard -- bobby kennedy had talked about how the south had helped deliver his brother, and a few other things. i think i quoted part of the speech in my book. and then i heard him say, because i'm just sitting there saying, oh, this is very interesting, cold war, soviet union, communism, democracy, and then he said, the graduation of charlayne hunter and hamilton holmes from this university will be a major step in our war against communism and the soviet union and communism. and i said, excuse me? at which point i was no longer invisible, because everybody turned around and looked at me